Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Political Climate, Going Viral and Coming Together

In case you didn't notice, there was an election in the US last week. And all hell has broken loose. And anything I can say will barely skirt all the issues, but I feel like it is important for the piece I really DO have something to say about, as background, if you will.

The candidate who won said a number of horrible things during the election about Mexican immigrants (and even about a few US born Mexican Americans—for instance a judge he said was not trustworthy on an issue because of his heritage). He said some horrible things about Muslim Americans and Muslim immigrants. He made some aspersions about Black Americans, unable to go to any subject from bringing up black people except “inner city problems”. As if black people are not more diverse and their problems and issues more varied than that. He made a lot of derogatory remarks about women, suggesting they were worthless unless they were pretty. He said some of the women accusing him of sexual assault “were not pretty enough” to sexually assault—as if if they were pretty he would have, but less attractive women were not worth even that. He bragged about sexually assaulting women, claimed he gets away with it because he's a celebrity.

So there have been protests about his winning from the people who did not want him. Some of them have included violence and vandalism, though I have also heard there have been some paid people in there committing the violence with a goal of de-legitimizing peaceful protests.

But on the other side there have been many many incidents of people emboldened by the hateful rhetoric doing hateful things. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented hundreds of cases, some of them in elementary and middle schools, causing children to fear their parents would be deported, or direct hateful acts or speech to the kids. My own story falls in this category but is just one of HUNDREDS if not thousands.

If you have an incident to report, go here.

Last Thursday

A post about this went viral Thursday (more about that shortly) so you may have seen this previously, though I am giving a bit more detail here, as I know more than the brief text from my daughter which was the basis of my original Facebook post. Plus there has been followup.

On Thursday at noon, my daughter, age 21, was at her boyfriend's apartment (he was at class) and decided to walk the two blocks to the store to get something. On her way she passed a house with four men, just a little older than her on the porch. They called the typical “flirty” taunts to her and she ignored them. Then one came off the porch, came at her, grabbed her butt and said, “this will be mine. I've seen you around before. This is a free country now, bitch."

She ran. She was worried she would be dragged into that house with the four of them so she ran back to her boyfriend's apartment and when he got home from class they went to the police station. She was warned it would be her word against the four boys, so it was likely all that would happen was a warning, but it would be on record and they would be warned.

And I shared how traumatized she was, and me, by extension, on Facebook and proceeded to have the very bizarre experience of going viral.

Going Viral

When I shared I had a couple friends ask if they could share, and I said they could. I felt like hearing the story of a friend would be more real to some people, so I said they could... but it ended up shared and shared and shared... Almost 700 times.

At first people were very supportive. They sent love, and were compassionate. A few people were ruffled because I did call for conservative friends to try to police their own, and they said this was not conservative behavior... I get it. It isn't. But it IS behavior directly reflective of the conservative candidate saying “I just grab em by the pussy”. I was calling on people to make it clear that this behavior is not acceptable from that side and to ask their candidate to condemn it in sharp terms.

But anyway... Overnight strangers began to show up. And BOY HOWDY, do I now know what Internet trolls are about. The most common response was “this didn't happen”, but I even got accused of trying a ploy for my 15 minutes of fame. I was lectured about not going to the police (she did), told she needed to fight back (statistics show running is safer if it is a possibility). But it was frankly exhausting. Total life of its own

Coming Together

We are in desperate need of some unity... of supporting each other in spite of differences. Of making a stand to stand up for people being mistreated. Of defending peaceful processes and condemning violence. I don't believe I am alone here. I think we can disagree on politics and still commit to caring for each other—for ALL others.

In that vein, I think many of you have seen the safety pin movement... I know it has gotten a bit of scoffing and a bit of poo pooing. But I think it shows some promise if it is done right.

Here is some history on something similar done during World War II.
For the record, here is a really good link on what “doing it right” means.

By day I work in an office dedicated to inclusion, which by definition connects to “climate”. It is my goal that enough people wear these that people who fear victimization look around and feel a little safer, and that people who might victimize others look around and know they will not get away with it.

There are also unity rallies, all over.

Please commit to not letting hate stand. To defending our fellow human beings and to calming what could end up really ugly if it continues to escalate.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Interview with Lisa Koosis, Author of Resurrecting Sunshine

Hallo, fine peoples!!! Need a break from election shouting, crying, cheering, catastrophizing? I've got something more fun here... Remember when I announced Lisa's book release at the beginning of October? Well I read her book and then fired her some questions, so today I am going to share them with YOU!!!

Without further ado, Welcome Lisa!!!

1)  So just to give us some background, you allude in the acknowledgments to this being the book that wouldn't die. When was it first written and could you share a little about this topsy journey?

Absolutely! And thank you so much for having me.

I wrote the first draft of Resurrecting Sunshine in 2009, and the draft was so bad that I filed it away, never to be looked at again. And honestly, I didn’t think about it again for a very long time. I went on to other manuscripts, ones that I thought had a better chance of going the distance. But then maybe a year and a half after I’d put it aside, I woke up in the middle of the night one night, thinking about that godawful manuscript and how I might fix it.

It became something of an obsession after that. I rewrote it and rewrote it. Characters were added. Characters were deleted. Characters were added back in. The ending changed twice. Eventually, I called it done and started querying agents. Lots of agents. And I got back plenty of encouragement, some wonderful feedback, and rejections by the bucket-load.

A few times I quit, and I mean quit the whole thing; querying, writing. It wasn’t the first manuscript I’d queried. It wasn’t even the second. I’d watched other people fly by me, landing agents and book deals after having spent, by far, less time in the novel-writing world, and much less time querying. And after a while, it gets exhausting. But I kept coming back to it. And eventually, after yet another round of revisions, and a whole series of domino-like events, I signed with a fantastic agent, and less than a year later I had two offers on the book.

2) You managed a very difficult task. You include real time, memories, dreams, and simulations, all seamlessly. An impressive feat. Did you consciously do anything to keep these all so distinct? Did this create any challenges for you, or things you had to work at in editing?

That aspect actually came pretty naturally. I wanted the book to have a drifting, dreamlike feel, and to have places where dreams and memory and reality blurred a bit. Logistically though, it did present a few challenges in editing, the biggest being just keeping the timeline straight since I was essentially weaving together two stories: the story taking place in the present, and the story of the events leading up to Sunshine’s death.

3) So the major themes I saw here were identity, self-determination, grief, and fate. Did I miss any big ones? Can you speak a bit about how YA, speculative fiction, and "organic process" might have influenced how your themes developed?

I’ve always believed that speculative fiction provides the perfect backdrop for exploring very human themes, because it puts everyday people/characters in extraordinary circumstances and allows us, as writers, to examine them under this sort of literary microscope. To add to this, I think YA takes us to a particularly formative time in life, when everything is naturally intensified.

But that said, a lot of the themes in Sunshine came from a very personal place and definitely emerged through more of an organic process. I had just separated from my husband, and I think without even realizing it, I was exploring through writing the very themes I was experiencing in my own life right then: loss, identity (who do you become when you lose the person closest to you?), personal responsibility, and most of all, trying to understand how you move forward when it seems impossible to do so.

4) So about cloning... I feel like the story you've told is the very personal ramifications, but for the sake of blowing this wide open, if cloning, complete with memory upload were really possible, what do you see as the biggest danger?

If I’m honest, I think there’s no limit to the dangers, both practically and ethically. One of the ideas I’ve always enjoyed exploring in fiction is the idea that what science can do, science will do. Sometimes it feels as if we advance so quickly, that our laws and our morality can’t keep up. I think that’s a truly scary thing.

Follow up: how do you feel about inspiring other works that would like to use this technology? (I have a story idea I'd love to develop, probably novella length--I'd of course give credit)

To think my speculative technology might inspire someone else is incredibly flattering. I’m all for it!

5) If you could be cloned, would you?

Oh lord, no! One of me can get into enough trouble all alone! (Although there is something to be said for having someone else to do the laundry and take care of the day job so I could just write.)

6) If you could clone a deceased loved one, would you?

I feel like this should be an easy question to answer, and yet somehow, it isn’t. I’d like to be able to say no way, that it would be wrong, that I would never even consider such a thing, that it wouldn’t truly be that person anyway. But emotionally, thinking about seeing someone I’ve loved and lost even one more time—particularly if they’d had their memories restored—I’m not sure that the temptation would be as easy to say no to as I’d like it to be.

7) And since 7 is the most magical number, what can we expect from you next?

I’ve always been a little bit superstitious when it comes to talking about what I’m working on, for fear that I’ll rob the project of some of its energy. But I can say that I’m planning to stay in the realm of young adult science fiction, which has started to feel like home to me.

Thank you so much, Lisa!  It was great to have you here! And thank you for being so candid!

Author Bio: In high school, much to the dismay of her guidance counselor, Lisa Koosis traded AP English for a creative writing class and a class in speculative fiction. She never looked back. Lisa is a member of the SCBWI, an ambassador for National Novel Writing Month, and an active member of her local writing community. Her short stories have been published widely. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her out walking her dog, or chilling with her cats.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Favorite (Writing) Thing

Hallo fine peoples! Another month gone already? Welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group's Monthly meeting! If you don't know what this is about, it is a LARGE group of writers dedicated to a bit of support for this process that we all do differently, yet all seem to experience many of the same things—most significantly, insecurity.

This month the question is: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

And let me tell you...

There is so much I love about writing. But really my FAVORITE thing is when I have a couple strands of story and a place I need to get to and I get this big swoopy moment of genius where the idea comes that will pull it all together. It doesn't happen OFTEN. Not even every book. Sometimes it happens in the planning. Or the writing. Or even the editing. But it is like this fireball to the gut—a good time—like a roller coaster almost—where this enormous weight lifts and this airy feeling of genius settles, however fleetingly.

It can't be forced, but I can give you a couple ways it might be triggered.

First: The problem needs to be sufficiently complicated or you are just not going to feel that clever solving it.

Or you could get one of these...
Second: Being naked helps. The shower is a good place for this, though it can strain memory to remember it until you are dry enough to write it down. Or likewise (also naked) that early morning not quite awake, but conscious time. (if you sleep in clothes this is never going to happen because you are too busy wrestling the strangling bindy pajama monsters that are trying to choke you)

If you can't be naked then this combo: Busy body, quiet mind. Like a swim or power walk with no music and minimal human interaction—something where your body is GOING but you don't really have to think too much.

So there. What is YOUR favorite aspect of writing?
And who is NaNo-ing?

Now go see what some of the others have to say...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Are You Ready to NaNo!?

So sorry for a two week skip. That was very bad of me. I am offering myself up for a spanking if anyone feels they must. Not sure exactly where my head has been. But now it's time to gear up for NaNoWriMo, so I need to get with the program.

I've got my victim, suspect, and have planned my inciting event, along with the characters who will be there... I just need to sort my clues and how they will pop up then plop them on a timeline.

For anybody wanting the personal touch, don't forget to join BuNoWriMo in addition to the formal NaNo site. It is a bit more personal—smaller group so we get to know each other.

As for what I am writing—a mystery. My buddy is off a breakup so I offered to kill her ex, but I am planting it in Portland in my Micro-brewery setting—I am starting with the grand opening—going BEFORE the other book I wrote, hoping to figure out the character piece that was off before so people love Kenny like I love Kenny.

So who else is playing? Are you planning ahead or diving in the day of?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What is this THING you speak of: Ready?If only

So WELCOME friends to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group first Wednesday meeting! You can find out all about IWSG here, and I encourage you to join if you have not already. Tons of great friends, support and resources. Plus the knowledge we are not on this journey alone.

If only it were this easy...
As a format, the group has been throwing out a question each month. October’s question is this:

When do you know your story is ready?

And the truth is, this is the crux of my problem. I have published 6 books and a short story. All published with DEADLINES. Because you see… I will keep tinkering and thinking “just this one more thing” forever unless somebody kicks me in the back side and says TIME!

Now three of my books (and the short) I had external deadlines imposed--an editor waiting for the book and a date it had to be there by. And that worked out pretty well… well the 2nd book was rough, as they edits they asked for were pretty large. But mostly that all worked out. I had to say “good enough” and because they were going to a professional editor, I could trust somebody else would call me out if they were not ready.

The flu trilogy was different. That was me trying to publish serially and because the first part WAS GOOD I dived, but then I didn’t want to leave people hanging too long waiting for the rest… sort of a forced speed of it that only allowed so many iterations.

Yet here I sit with probably 12 completed books, at least 5 of them pretty near ready, and I keep tinkering… I am calling one DONE. Maybe I will start with that.

Now go visit some people who have their act together, because clearly you aren’t going to learn anything useful here… erm…

Friday, September 30, 2016

Resurrecting Sunshine: Teaser and Cover Reveal

So I got an ARC yesterday, waiting for me when I got home. And I am very excited to read it. Here's why...

Lisa Koosis is MEGA talented. I first met her when I did my first ABNA contest and she was supportive, but also quiet, peaceful. One of those people who just seems very nice. But she is also a bit shy. Slow to jump into shenanigans. Never, in—what is this, 8 years ago? Never loud or aggressive or rude. And also never flashy or showy. I think that may be the trouble. She has been a top runner in several contests over the years, but I think she's been a bit timid about formal querying, and she hasn't gone the self-publishing route because I believe she knows she is to reserved for that sort of promoting.

So here I have in my hot little hands, her first book that is going to be sent out into the world. And I just want to give it a little amplification. I can be noisy. I can shout. I can get excited and tell all of you. For day I am just teasing you, but in a couple weeks we will be back here with an author interview so you can get to know Lisa a little better.

From Goodreads:

At seventeen, Adam Rhodes is famous, living on his own, and in a downward spiral since he lost the girl he loved. Marybeth stage name Sunshine was his best friend from the days they were foster kids; then she was his girlfriend and his band mate. But since her accidental death, he's been drinking to deal with the memories. Until one day, an unexpected visitor, Dr. Elloran, presents Adam with a proposition that just might save him from himself. Using breakthrough cloning and memory-implantation techniques, Dr. Elloran and the scientists at Project Orpheus want to resurrect Marybeth, and they need Adam to "donate" intimate memories of his life with her. The memory retrieval process forces Adam to relive his life with Marybeth and the devastating path that brought them both to fame. Along the way, he must confront not only the circumstances of her death but also his growing relationship with the mysterious Genevieve, daughter of Project Orpheus's founder. As the process sweeps Adam and Marybeth ever closer to reliving the tragedy that destroyed them, Adam must decide how far he'll go to save her."

Comes out Saturday!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Culling of the World

So I read a blog piece this week that got me thinking. I know. That's dangerous. But it was about the moments in history where something, natural or man-made, causes a sudden fast drop in human population. Things like the Bubonic plague, typhoid Mary, the Spanish flu. But also World Wars, land wars in Asia, and natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.

Well this article pointed out with the HUMAN variety, there was always an ostrich.

Lemme esplain... No, is too much. Lemme sum up...

First you have to watch this Blackadder sketch about the Ostrich that started WWI.

The point is world conditions can get to a point where ONE LITTLE THING will set off a stack of Dominos. The ostrich. But the more important thing is everything needs to be poised... the Dominos stacked.

And the article noted how we are poised right now... just like that. The xenophobia trickling across the globe, the hike in natural disasters making everyone nervous, the world seen in real time because of cell phones. It isn't just the US. This is the stuff of Brexit and Putin's Imperialism, it is girls disappearing in India because nobody cares to keep them safe, it is rainforests converted to grazing land because profits matter more than air. But in the US is is the hate rhetoric, cops shooting innocent people, corporations buying our government.

It's frightening. When I think about my kids and whether they will ever have kids—what will their world be? Will a natural disaster on the scale of an asteroid or the supervolcano just wipe out everyone? Or will it be the more subtle allowance of companies to poison our water so we all die slowly? Or will there be a revolution because we live in a country divided between nationalism and populism?

So what will be our ostrich? Any ideas?